CC BY-SA, © Graham Hogg -

Location: Arran
vikings, archaeology

The stone circles of Machrie Moor

There are six stone circles on Machrie Moor. Thought to be around 4000 years old, they sit within a rich archaeological landscape, near to standing stones, chambered cairns, and evidence of Neolithic farming. We don’t know why these monuments were built or what they were used for, but it is thought that they could have been ceremonial or ritual sites. Perhaps people from the surrounding countryside gathered here to celebrate. Archaeologists have also found evidence that people were buried or cremated within the circles.

Folklore also offers an explanation. Fingal’s Cauldron Seat, the most famous of the circles, includes one stone with a hole in it. According to one tradition, legendary hero Fingal tethered his dog Bran to this while he stopped to eat a meal. Another story relates that Fingal and his companions were hunting boar in the woods nearby when a group of Vikings landed in Machrie Bay. Fingal and his men attacked and succeeded in driving them back to the ships, but not without losses on their own side. The Fingalian heroes who were killed were buried here and the stone circles raised in tribute.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.